Boston’s new hub, MassRobotics, is like a WeWork for robotics startups

If you’re building drones, personal delivery vehicles or robots that can perform surgery, a desk in a coworking community like WeWork or RocketSpace probably won’t be enough for you. Now, the city of Boston has opened a new facility just for robotics startups. The nonprofit hub, MassRobotics, is located at 12 Channel Street in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District.

According to a press statement, MassRobotics’ facility includes labs and expensive equipment that startups need for testing and prototyping, like industrial-grade oscilloscopes, 3D printers, aeroelectronics and an enclosure for indoor drone testing. MassRobotics is leasing 15,000 square feet and will build out another 25,000 square feet in the building. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is to be held tomorrow, February 17th, with Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh.

According to MassRobotics hub co-founder Joyce Sidopoulos, MassRobotics isn’t just about providing an innovation space for robotics companies, as important as that is. The initiative is aligned with other local efforts by Mass Technology Leadership Council, a partner to MassRobotics, aimed at keeping tech talent in town, creating jobs or taking jobs at major employers, locally. Mass TLC has won a number of economic development and related grants to help ensure that New England remains a regional leader in the burgeoning robotics industry.

Artist's rendering: MassRobotics, a coworking space exclusively for robotics startups in Boston.

Artist’s rendering: MassRobotics, a coworking space exclusively for robotics startups in Boston.

Employers in the field of robotics with a significant presence in the greater Boston area range from large companies like General Dynamics, Draper and Amazon Robotics, to a huge number of startups like Locus RoboticsSoft Robotics and Rise Robotics. Initial residents at MassRobotics “alpha” space include agriculture-focused American Robotics, urban mobility startup Hurdler Motors, the Air Force Research Lab HMSS and the makers of robots used for inspections in the oil and gas industry, Square Robots.

Besides providing innovation space, MassRobotics and their partners MassTLC are connecting early-stage companies with potential pilot customers, helping them find nearby sites where they can fly, float or otherwise test their robots, and providing workforce training to people who want to get jobs in advanced manufacturing.

“It’s true that you can’t just work on a laptop in this field. You need space to build, learn, rearrange chips on a board, put it back in, run tests… But this innovation hub will also bring startups together, where hopefully everyone can help each other out. We’re already seeing senior companies offer to mentor newcomers in the field, and we have heard from a list of robotics companies a mile long who want to move in,” Sidopoulos said.


Update: This post was edited to specify that MassTLC and MassRobotics are operated separately.